Cultured Wednesday: Diefenbach’s Fairy Dance

Diefenbach was an early ‘Lebensreformer’ and an amazing painter.

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Karl_Wilhelm_Diefenbach_-_The_fairy_dance
The fairy dance, 1895

Karl Wilhelm von Diefenbach is probably primarily known for his involvement and role in the back-to-nature movement of the end of the 19th century, but today, we are primarily interested in his paintings.  Incidentally, he was by no means the only painter in the Lebensreform movement.

The paintings of Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach carry a special mood.  He painted beautiful landscapes, often the coastlines of Capri, Italy, where he spent the last 14 years of his life, but he also did a lot of mythical paintings, sometimes combined with self portraits.

Diefenbach was born in Hessen, Germany, on 21 February 1851 – incidentally, that’s the day after tomorrow 169 years ago, so Happy Birthday! – and was, according to the Wiki, “a pioneer of the naturist and the peace movements. His country commune, Himmelhof, in Ober Sankt Veit near Vienna (1897–1899) was one of the models for the reform settlement Monte Verità in Ascona. His ideas included life in harmony with nature and rejection of monogamy, turning away from any religion (although he was a follower of theosophy), and a vegetarian diet.”  After his commune had to close, he moved to Capri where he died on 15 December 1913.

The Fairy Dance (presumably ‘Feentanz’) does not contain a self portrait, I would assume, but it definitely has a mythical quality in the very choice of colors and the amazing dynamic of the dance, not to mention the motive.  Just notice the tree branches bending, and how the color of the fairies and their magic dance repeats on the rocky slopes of the mountains.

Click the picture above for a closer look.  If you go to Diefenbach’s Wikimedia Commons page, you will find a good many more paintings of his.

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